CREDIBILITY - Skillz
Long before you heard of Pharell, The Neptunes, The Clipse, Missy, Timbaland & Magoo,...there was a MC that was representing the soon to come VA hip hop movement. In fact Skillz was holding it down when there was no one else.
You’ve heard him before; the ever popular year end "Rap Up" song where he parodies the events that have come to past. You heard Skillz on tracks where you didn’t know it was him. A respected "Ghostwriter" for many of the industry’s hottest including; Oops, a real ghostwriter never reveals his clients.
Through all the highs and lows Skillz is back to show you the reason why he has lasted in this game. For fans of the music, Skillz return is long awaited, highly anticipated and refreshing to see the return of real hip-hop, true lyricism Skillz style.
By LD Williams.
CRED: I’m with one of the most talented artist you’ve ever heard you jut didn’t know you were listening to him Skillz. Is it accurate you were born in Michigan?
Skillz: I was born in Michigan, Detroit then I left when I was about three. Then during my younger years I spent some time in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1987-88 I relocated to Richmond, Virginia and I have been there ever since.
CRED: What were your earliest musical influences?
Skillz: I remember listening to Fat Boys on the radio, Run DMC, and it was this new music I was intrigued with it. I could hear the song one and I would know the words the next time I heard it. No other music could do that I heard a lot of music growing up a lot of James Brown, a lot of Earth, Wind and Fire and the music happened to be hip-hop. Run DMC was definitely influential to me. Around the time that I thought I could do this and write my own little raps was when I heard Paid in Full and Big Daddy Kane.
CRED: When did you decide you were going to make hip hop career?
Skillz: Around the early 1990s I was fiddling around and was engulfed in the whole culture. I used to DJ, I was buying records. I was in a break dance group. I did it all. I was a graffiti writer… I was the worse graffiti writer in the world but I really got a response when I started rapping that is when I decided that this was my calling.
CRED: In 1994 you got signed at Atlantic which was a major deal.
Skillz: Yeah first rap artist from Virginia on a major label there was no Timberlands, no Missy’s and no Neptune’s. I was waving the VA flag all by myself, it was just me.
CRED: You had the single "Nod Factor" on your debut "From Where". So why didn’t the building get behind it? And who set up your release date?
Skillz: The first single came out and it got moderate success. It was a good album as far as hip hop was concerned but this was around the time Biggie came out. They gave him a label for Junior Mafia and after that the whole focus was on Junior M.A.F.I.A. Now me myself, I know these corporate people can’t fuck with Bad Boy. They don’t understand Puff Daddy, Mary J Blige, Uptown; that whole monster and how he got it to be that way. Once I knew they were going to drop the ball I asked for a release it took me awhile but I finally got it. The guy who is responsible for putting my album out the same day as the Fugees, "The Score" and Tupac’s "All Eyez on Me" was Craig Kellman who is still there to this day.
CRED: You were signed with Timberland?
Skillz: I was signed to his label, I was there before it was called Beat Club it was called Z Man. I was there for three years doing my work. Timberland decided he was going to work on the Bubba Sparks project. He wanted to go in a different direction. Working with Timberland made me tighten up my songwriting. My first album was battle raps with hooks around it…
CRED: In 2005 you released Confessions of a Ghostwriter?
Skillz: I can’t even discuss that album because it was such a mix tape to me. Those were the songs I recorded for Rawkus and somebody got there hands on it and put it out. Now it had Imagine on it which is one of my favorite records but it was so dated. I don’t want people to judge me on that. I really stand beside "From Where" and "Million Dollar Backpack", so judging me on that is like judging Run DMC on their first album. You can’t do that.
CRED: In 2002 you started the Wrap Up?
Skillz: Yes, the "Wrap Up" is like fruit cake and Silent Night in December… it has to happen. As long as people want to hear it I am going to make it. I enjoy doing it.
CRED: What separates Skillz from everyone else in hip hop 2008?
Skillz: There is nothing fake about me I am not a gangster, I am not a killer I am not a thug. If you force me defend myself or my family I can be a crazy fool. Now if you do that then that’s cool; but if you are on your third album… can you tell me something else? Do you have a daughter, a son? Do you love your grandma and her cooking? If you made a song about grandma and her cooking I could relate to that. I can’t relate to being in the trap all day that isn’t what I do. I made albums for regular people, the closest person to that is Kanye. People want to say he makes pop, he makes backpack music.
But there are only two types of music, good and bad that’s it.
CRED: So now that you are on Koch there is going to be a steady stream of music?
Skillz: The one thing I learned from this experience is how good it feels to have new music in the market place. I definitely took too much time off I am going to be in the studio right after the Wrap Up. I already have four songs done. I am going to have a Premo beat, it is going to be the first song. (laughs)
CRED: What do you want your legacy to be and what do you want to say your fans?
Skillz: That I stayed true to what I started. I definitely want to move into filmmaking and acting, just like every other rapper. But I want to be behind the camera as well. I want people to know I held the flag and made it ok for people to say they are from Virginia. You don’t have to say I am from some other place... You don’t have to say I am from Brooklyn; it’s ok. When I came out it was just me. Now it’s me, Timberland, Missy, Clipse, Chris Brown, Tyra B and we have something to offer the world too…
To the fans: Thank you for the years of support. I am feeling the love from the people, the DJs and the artists. I know so many people I might get a hit and I am like where did you hear it and they are like I am in Galveston, Texas. Reach out to me on MySpace (www.myspace.com/skillz)